I looked over at him and he was making the motion of a long, skinny beard coming down from his chin. Aaron continued, “I thought he would get food in that long beard!” And then…..”He wasn’t an old man but he was a grown-up man!”
Last night Aaron had asked if he could have pancakes for breakfast the next morning, so after my shower this morning I opened my door and went to Aaron’s bedroom to tell him that his wish was about to come true. I was going to fix pancakes. But Aaron’s room was empty, though his bed was made, and so I went downstairs to find him. Upon walking into the kitchen, this is what I found.
There were his shorts in a heap on the floor, looking as if he had just slipped them off and left them there………which he had. I looked around for him, but there was no sign of Aaron. I went upstairs, wondering if he was hiding in his closet like he has done before. No, still no Aaron in his closet or in any other closest or under a bed. I looked outside, thinking he must be in the mulch, but all his mulch or twig sites were empty.
I went ahead and got his pancakes started before checking all the downstairs areas, including our two storage rooms. All were empty of Aaron. Now I was starting to get a little concerned. I called for him and told him that I was fixing pancakes, but the house was silent. Back outside I went, calling his name, but there was no answer. I went over to the side of the house where he had been sitting by the trees last week, and when I looked on the other side of the trees, there he was! His back was to me, and his bland clothes didn’t stand out, so he was hard to see.
I called to him again, and he finally answered. “I didn’t think you’d see me!” he happily said. He had no idea that I was getting a little frazzled. He got up immediately when I told him that his pancakes were ready. He reminded me of a young child as he was obviously pleased with his good job of hiding, and excited as he anticipated his fresh, hot pancakes that were waiting for him.
He put his mulch trash can back in the garage and then washed his hands thoroughly before he came to the table, stepping over his dropped shorts. He explained to me that those were the pair of shorts that were hard to button, so he had just dropped them there and put on his shorts from yesterday. I left him to eat his pancakes and went back upstairs to finish getting ready, where he later joined me. His denim shorts were back on as he walked into my room, holding them together at his waist and carrying his belt that he needed me to help him thread through his belt loops. I helped him button the shorts and get on his belt, and then he handed me one of his tennis shoes that he wanted me to untie and retie after he slipped it on his foot.
All the while, he was telling me about eating five pancakes but leaving the others on the plate, and wondering if Jackson could have the ones he didn’t eat……….and if it was OK that he let Jackson eat the crumbs that were on the floor. I wondered if the crumbs were more like bite-sized chunks that he conveniently left on the floor for his dog buddy to eat, but knowing I wouldn’t get an accurate answer I just left that unsaid. I agreed that we could take Jackson with us for our drive to meet Aaron’s group, so off we headed for the van……..after Aaron made sure that I put in his computer keyboard. As we passed the kitchen table, I saw Aaron’s empty plate and then the pile of untouched silverware there on the side. I always shake my head at Aaron’s need of multiple pieces of silverware, no matter what he eats. It’s like a security blanket for him, always necessary but rarely ever needed.
He grabbed two bottles of water and hopped in the van, with Jackson sitting on the back seat and music soon playing from the CD that I inserted……..and that Aaron examined and then approved. Soon he said, “Mom? Last night at 11:01 I saw lightning.”
“Really?” I asked. “So what time was it?” I love his precise time-giving, and he did not disappoint me. “It was at 11:01,” he repeated. “And it scared me!” So we talked about why the lightning scared him………him saying that he didn’t know it was going to lightning. Last night was one of those nights that he didn’t check on the weather and the outside temperature before going to bed, so I guess that explained his surprise at the lightning. I imagine that tonight he will remember to do his routine weather check before he closes his door to go to bed.
Then as he so often does, Aaron took a sharp verbal turn and for whatever reason he said, “Mom, yesterday I saw a man at McDonald’s who had a beard like this.”
I laughed, and thought as Jackson and I drove home about Aaron not being an old man……….but is he a grown-up man? In some ways yes, but in many ways no. There he was this morning, playing his hiding game and loving his pancakes and trying to feed the dog and needing help with his buttoning and his belt and one of his shoes. We have some work to do to help Aaron be more of a grown-up man, but some things about him will probably never change. He will always think that hiding from Mom is fun sometimes, and that secretly feeding the dog is great, and that unexpected lightning at 11:01 is a little scary.
It’s all a part of fun and frustrating Aaron, and part of the balancing act that parents like Gary and I face every day. I’m thankful that we can have Aaron with us at this stage of his life, and I also know that we must prepare him for the time that he will need to be very grown-up and learn to live somewhere else.
And that is like the unexpected lightning…….a little scary. Makes me want to grab Aaron’s trash can and go hide behind that tree he was using this morning! But I can’t and I shouldn’t, so Gary and I will someday face that time together – I hope – and certainly with the Lord by our side.